Saturday, January 30, 2010

Japan’s dilly-dally, Guam’s opportunity

Japan’s dilly-dally, Guam’s opportunity

Wednesday, 27 January 2010 05:32
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff

WITH the recent declaration made by Nago Okinawa Prefecure mayor-elect Susumu Inamine about his opposition to having U.S. bases in Okinawa, Guam gets the opportunity to be included in the new discussions between Japan and the United States regarding Marines’ relocation plan, Sen. Judith Guthretz said yesterday.

The chair of the legislative committee on military buildup explained that the election of anti-U.S. base candidate Inamine earlier this month has virtually ended the possibility of relocating the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, as previously agreed upon in a bilateral accord between the U.S. and Japan.

“This change in leadership in Okinawa is an opportunity for the United States to finally address the concerns of the island community with regard to the impending military buildup,” Guthertz said.

Possible voiding
She added that the dynamics of Japan’s current political landscape gives credence to the probability of a delay or nullification of the accord and the proposed relocation of Marines to Guam because of the movement of the Futenma Marine contingent to Nago.

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama has seemingly acquiesced to Inamine’s view stating that “The country will start from scratch on this issue and take responsibility.”

Moreover, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated that without the move from Futenma there will be no move to Guam.

Guthertz explained that it just makes sense to include the concerns of the people of Guam who will absorb the entirety of the buildup impact. During the initial discussion on the proposed buildup Guam was totally ignored, she said.

Workable approach

Guthertz explained that this is not a workable approach and noted that this sentiment is reflected in the current fallout of support for the buildup as the island citizenry reacts to the draft environment impact statement.

“It is becoming more and more apparent among the people of Guam that the proposed buildup is for too many too soon, and is coming too quickly,” said Guthertz. “In Guam, the public sentiment for the buildup is rapidly shifting from positive to negative as the details in the [draft study] are being understood.

Guthertz offers an alternative to the U.S. government via a comment paper in response to the draft study. She will dub her paper, “Stretching and Spreading the Buildup,” over a over a more manageable and acceptable timeframe.

Guthertz cited a prior commitment made by then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney in 1990 pledging that the Pentagon would conduct prior consultations with the government of Guam regarding any desired change in the military footprint in Guam.

The Pentagon is breaking that solemn promise, she said. “No discussions were held with the Government of Guam prior to the determination of the relocation of Marines, and Guam had no input on the size or speed of the buildup.”

“We have never been told who and what determined that the relocation would be for 8,652 Marines, and this is wrong! The people of Guam must be heard, there must be collaboration in this process with our island community,” she added.

She said if neither the U.S. federal government nor the government of Japan agrees fund local needs, Guam “will end up in the disastrous situation of having two Guams: a first-world Guam inside the military fences, and third-world Guam outside the fences.”

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